“We don’t treat autism. We treat the symptoms associated with autism.” Those were the words spoken by Dr Jerry Kartzinel during the opening presentation at this year’s Autism Education Summit.
My wife and I have always said we want our son to be the best Ethan he can be. Dr Jerry echoed our sentiments when he said, “We are not trying to change our kids. They are perfect, and we love them as they are. However, we treat them, so that they FEEL better. We treat them so we can help them go from “dysfunctional to functional”.
If you’ve ever gone to work after not sleeping the night before, you know what a challenge it can be to be productive and get anything done. Imagine being a 6-year-old only sleeping 2 hours a night for 10 straight days. In addition to being sleep deprived, your hormones are out of whack, so you’re in a state of constant fight or flight. Also, imagine you don’t have the ability to communicate how you feel. Then, your parent takes you to school or ABA therapy for 8 hours. How much progress do you think you will be able to make?
Kids on the spectrum can suffer from a variety of health issues like poor sleep patterns, low muscle tone, severe allergies, seizures, gut problems, and a myriad of other conditions.
If we can treat the underlying medical symptoms commonly associated with autism, then we can help our kids feel better. “The goal is to make a happier and healthier kid, so that they are ready for progress.” (Dr Jerry)
At this year’s Autism Education Summit, leaders in autism research and renowned doctors presented on a variety of health issues related to autism and autoimmune disease. While many topics were covered, there were several commonalities:
- Clean up the diet & heal the gut
- Reduce environmental toxins
- Build a healthy gut microbiome
- Ease the burden on the immune system to allow it to rest
It Starts with Diet
In every session, the expert presenters repeatedly mentioned these important concepts in helping children with autism. Parents, like us, who have begun treatment in these areas report having seen their kids improve. I can personally attest to seeing more regular bowel movements, a decrease in allergy-type symptoms like random hives and rashes, and less aggressive behaviors after treating these areas specifically. Parents and the experts at the Autism Education Summit all agree though; the first step for all kids on the spectrum is a gluten free diet.
Presenters went into greater detail on these topics, and I’ve included links at the end of this post if you’d like to learn more. Other issues were covered in-depth as well including sleep, OCD, anxiety, neuroinflammation, methylation, genetic mutations, chronic infections, and others.
Doctors gave actionable recommendations during their presentations. If parents had more specific questions, they were able to ask the docs personally. Doctors stayed after lectures to answer individual questions from parents and practitioners.
Access to Leaders in the Community
Access to these leading doctors is unbelievable at the summit. If you were unable to stay after a lecture, then you were able to grab the doc in the hall and ask your question then. I even know one parent who used this time to “interview for a new doctor”. She personally talked to all the presenters to see who would be the right fit for her son.
This access is one of the big reasons to attend conferences like the Autism Education Summit. Parents were able to leave with a plan of action, such as tests to take to their primary docs, supplements to help calm their child, or other ideas that will help their kid start to feel better.
It’s a Puzzle
If you are a parent looking to help your kiddo function better, I highly recommend attending a conference like this one. Each and every child presents a unique situation and a whole different set of symptoms and conditions. It is difficult for parents and doctors to pinpoint exactly what is going on with a child on the spectrum.
The puzzle is made even more complicated when the patient cannot communicate the way he is feeling. Conferences, like the Autism Education Summit, seek to educate parents and medical professionals and make solving the puzzle a little easier.
Don’t give up!
While I learned a great deal from the presenters, doctors, parents, and exhibitors at the Autism Education Summit, the #1 thing I took away was inspiration. Throughout the conference, we heard stories of recovery.
We talked with parents who are experiencing many of the same challenges we are facing. Session after session, doctors would say, “we can fix this”. If we find out that “”this”” is why your kid is doing “”this””, we can fix that. The overarching message of the conference was never give up hope.
Whether you are hoping for full recovery, or just hoping to see your kiddo function a little better, never stop trying. Never stop looking because you do not know when you will find the right treatment that works for your child. If you’re like me, and you’re still yearning to hear those magic words, “Daddy I Love You”, don’t give up. Keep searching for answers. There is always hope.
Remember, I am no expert. I’m Simply a Dad. Please check out these additional resources to learn more.